NALCO bribe case: CBI custody of Bhatia extended till March 10

Last Updated: Saturday, March 5, 2011 - 19:35

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday allowed the
CBI to interrogate a senior official of a private firm
Ratan Pal Singh Bhatia, arrested for allegedly bribing
suspended NALCO CMD Abhay Srivastava, in its custody till
March 10,saying the case reflected a "deep-rooted conspiracy".

"The facts of the case reveal a deep-rooted conspiracy
between the accused persons regarding bribing a top ranking
public servant. Accordingly, I am satisfied that the prayer
for extension of police custody remand for accused Bhatia is
justified," special CBI Judge O P Saini said while extending
Bhatia`s CBI custody.
Bhatia, an executive of Bhatia Group of Industries who
had allegedly paid Rs 20 lakh bribe to `middleman` Bhushan Lal
Bajaj for delivery to Srivastava, was arrested by the CBI on
February 28.

The CBI submitted before the court that he entire call
details of the recorded conversation between Bhatia and Bajaj
for balance payment of Rs 40 lakh could not be obtained from
the service provider but it is likely to get the information
"CMD of Bhatia Group of Industries G S Bhatia and its
Director (Marketing) Jaswinder Singh have not joined
investigation till date and are expected to join the probe
either today of tomorrow. The accused is required to be
confronted with these two," CBI prosecutor Akhilesh said.

It added the accused was evasive in his replies
during his custodial interrogation.

Defence counsel Rahul Mehra opposed the CBI`s plea
saying the probe agency had not done anything during the
five days in which his client was in its custody.

Mehra expressed apprehension that Bhatia might be
tortured to make a "confession" during his custodial

The court, however, rejected his submissions. "As far
as the plea that accused may be tortured in police custody is
concerned, the same is unfounded as the police officials are
expected to carry out investigation as per law".

The CBI had alleged that Bhatia Group of Industries
had paid a huge bribe amount to Srivastava through Bajaj and
Ratan Pal Singh Bhatia had paid the first instalment of bribe
amount of Rs 20 lakh to Bajaj.

Ratan Pal Bhatia was the fifth person to be arrested
in this case.

NALCO CMD A K Srivastava and B L Bajaj are currently
in CBI custody till March 8.

Srivastava`s wife Chandani Srivastava, Bajaj and his
spouse Anita Bajaj were arrested by the CBI on February 25
following a tip-off. The agency allegedly recovered about 10
kgs of gold bricks and jewellery valued at around Rs 2.13
crores as also Rs 30 lakh in cash from their possession.

Anita and Chandani are in judicial custody till March


First Published: Saturday, March 5, 2011 - 19:35

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